Higher Learning: XXL Staff Remembers Back-to-School Jams

1 of 10
  • #Back to School_Thumbnail
  • Back to School_Lead
    Higher Learning: <em>XXL</em> Staff Remembers Back-to-School Jams
    <em>Photo Originally From a Scene out of</em> The Wire<em>'s Season Four Episode Three</em><br /><br />The long summer has wrapped up, and school's back in session. While it's a depressing time for many students, this summer, as many previous summers in hip-hop history, has churned out some of the year's finest records. The staff members at <em>XXL</em> were all students at one point, with recollections of significant summertime bangers that were carried on to the school year. (Just like you!) Whether it was a soon-to-be classic ("Juicy") or a street-oriented heatrock ("We Gonna Make It"), records that receive heavy spins during the summer, compared to those from other seasons, always seem to stay closer to the heart. With that said, here’s a list of <em>XXL</em> staff members' favorite back-to-school jams. <em>Some days, we sit and wish we were kids again</em>. —<em>XXL Staff</em> (<a href="http://twitter.com/xxl">@XXL</a>)
  • DMX “Party Up,” <em>…And Then There Was X</em>
    DMX “Party Up,” <em>…And Then There Was X</em> (1999)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/YFF3EaclEEE?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/YFF3EaclEEE?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><strong>EMILY CAPPIELLO, <em>Managing Editor</em>:</strong> “When I think about school memories, ‘Party Up’ by DMX always seems to be playing in my head. I had just started at a new school when that song was hot and everyone knows the deal about being a new kid. I was lucky enough to meet some awesome friends and even though it took some time, all the pieces fell into place. I feel like that song followed my crew and I for years and every time we had a wild story to tell about a party or night on the town, that song is immediately triggered—part of the soundtrack of my life. Sometimes I play that song when my girls and I get together and everyone at the table can rattle off multiple memories of the good ol’ times.”
  • Hot Boys “We on Fire,” <em>Guerilla Warfare</em> (1999)
    Hot Boys “We on Fire,” <em>Guerilla Warfare</em> (1999)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/1iFMWkP5It4?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/1iFMWkP5It4?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><strong>JAYSON RODRIGUEZ, <em>Executive Editor</em>:</strong> “The <em>Guerilla Warfare</em> album dropped in July 1999 and a month later when I started my junior year of college, while I was moving into my dorm, the room next to mine was bumping this track. I'd been banging the album in my car the previous few weeks and when the next track cued up I had to see just who lived across the hall from me. The door was open and I walked right in and it was a girl. Her name was Erika, I introduced myself and we talked as the rest of the album played. She became one of my best friends that year, the following year her friends and mine went on a spring break trip and this past summer she got married and I was there. It was dope how we connected over that album."
  • Nelly, Diddy and Murphy Lee “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” <em>Bad Boys II: The Soundtrack</em>
    Nelly, Diddy and Murphy Lee “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” <em>Bad Boys II: The Soundtrack</em> (2003)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/9x7Oa1ELu0A?version=3&hl=en_US"/><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/9x7Oa1ELu0A?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"/></object><strong>ADAM FLEISCHER, <em>Music Editor</em>:</strong> “This song doesn't remind me of going back to school as much as it reminds me of the summer ending. I was about to be a sophomore in high school and I was (am) an unapologetic Murphy Lee fan. I went to camp over the summer, so I had a bunch of friends from different places that I wouldn't see during the school year. That song came out early in the summer and we bumped it the all way through. Plus, we saw the <em>Bad Boys II</em> movie that it was from. It was still popping when the school year rolled around, and I heard it on the radio on my way in on the first day. I actually had to turn it down 'cause it was actually making me sad thinking about summer being over.”
  • Method Man & Redman featuring Blue Raspberry "Cereal Killer,” <em>Blackout!</em> (1999)
    Method Man & Redman featuring Blue Raspberry "Cereal Killer,” <em>Blackout!</em> (1999)
    <strong>MARK LELINWALLA, <em>Senior Editor</em>:</strong> "I remember entering my junior year of high school in September of 1999 with a favorite album in tow—Method Man and Redman’s <em>Blackout!</em>. I remember picking up a bootleg copy (Meth and Red—I owe you $13.95) by the Queens Center Mall. Already two favorites of mine, Meth and Red delivered a true rap album like only they could. The record had everything a hip-hop head would ever want, from the infectious 'Da Rockwilder' to major album cuts like 'Cereal Killer' (my favorite track on the LP) and '4 Seasons,' which had Meth and Red spitting fire alongside a seasoned LL Cool J and Ja Rule. Rhymes galore! Though that album dropped in September of 1999, I remember bumping it well into the 2000 and beyond. No Y2K, ya diiig."<object width="620" height="30"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/-z-EGRbtxlw?version=3&hl=en_US"/><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/-z-EGRbtxlw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="30" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"/></object>
  • Ma$e “Lookin' at Me,” <em>Harlem World</em> (1998)
    Ma$e “Lookin' at Me,” <em>Harlem World</em> (1998)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/oCdE_bl0q1g?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/oCdE_bl0q1g?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><strong>RALPH BRISTOUT, <em>Editorial Assistant</em>:</strong> “I was stepping into the 2nd grade around this time and Ma$e's Neptunes-produced banger provided me with more swag than I could've ever needed at the age of 8. Not only did I try to mimic the little shimmy move he always did, but I also remember rapping my own version of the record a few days before class. It went like this, 'What the hell is you looking for/Can't a brother rock his FILAs and ve-lour...' Yeah, those were the days.”
  • Styles P featuring Jadakiss and Sheek Louch "We Thugs," <i>A Gangster and a Gentleman</i> (2002)
    Styles P featuring Jadakiss and Sheek Louch "We Thugs," <i>A Gangster and a Gentleman</i> (2002)
    <strong>NEIL MARTINEZ-BELKIN, <em>Editorial Assistant</em>:</strong> "<em>A Gangster & A Gentlemen</em> came out the summer before I started high school. My friends and I would begin attending different schools in the fall, and those last few months felt like our last hurrah as a crew. We knew things would change, and eventually they did. But damn, we ran through that album nonstop that summer, and 'We Thugs' was without question, the favorite cut amongst the group. And rightfully so; it’s really a classic bromance record."<object width="620" height="30"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/-_RyXhm2P6s?version=3&hl=en_US"/><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/-_RyXhm2P6s?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="30" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"/></object>
  • Notorious B.I.G. featuring Total “Juicy,” <em>Ready to Die</em> (1994)
    Notorious B.I.G. featuring Total “Juicy,” <em>Ready to Die</em> (1994)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/_JZom_gVfuw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_JZom_gVfuw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><strong>CARL CHERY, <em>Digital Content Director</em>:</strong> “I remember the summer of ‘94 very clearly. Life was pretty simple as a high school student. I didn't have a job, so there wasn't much to do, but to play basketball, listen to music and talk to girls. <em>Illmatic</em>, which came out in April of that year—was still in heavy rotation, but my cousin Tone was on to the next one. Everywhere we went, Brookville Park in Rosedale, Queens, Green Acres Mall in Long Island, or on Jamaica Ave, Tone would repeat these exact words to whomever we talked to, 'You know who's about to blow up? Biggie Smalls.' Tone just knew. 'Juicy' had just come out. And, I want to say 'Unbelievable' was available as a promo single—cause I remember that hilarious Funkmaster Flex skit on Hot 97—but I could be wrong. <em>Ready to Die</em> wound up coming out right around back to school season, September 13th to be exact, and Tone was spot on. Biggie did blow up.”
  • Jadakiss featuring Styles P “We Gonna Make It,” <em>Kiss Tha Game Goodbye</em>
    Jadakiss featuring Styles P “We Gonna Make It,” <em>Kiss Tha Game Goodbye</em> (2001)
    <object width="620" height="400"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/p6TrQzNTrRA?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/p6TrQzNTrRA?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620" height="400" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><strong>JAEKI CHO, <em>Senior Online Editor</em>:</strong> “I was about to enter the 7th grade, and I spent a good portion of my early summer in Seattle at my aunt’s place. When I returned to Queens around late July of 2001, the barbershops, handball courts, car speakers, and Hot 97 were all playing an infectious record by Kiss and Styles called 'We Gonna Make It,' produced by Alchemist. Now, I was 12, and neither my English nor knowledge of the drug trade were thorough enough to grasp all the lyrics. But I loved the record so much that I went to Junction Boulevard off the 7 train, and copped DJ Clue?’s <em>Hev. E. Components Part 3</em> mixtape. There were some hard-hitting joints on that shitty-quality tape, but I remember listening to 'We Gonna Make It' nonstop, until I was able to recite the whole song word for word. Plus, the video of the song I saw at the local barbershop was incredible. It didn’t spark my rap star fantasies, but it certainly prolonged them."